I spent some time with my father this afternoon. I have not intentionally killed anyone since. (Note the word “intentionally”) Given that I carry the genetic code that he gave me 42 years ago, it is these times that I sit and think about my interaction with other people and hope, for all that is good and Holy, that I have improved on the code. I’m hoping for the best with the whole “Nature vs Nurture” thing since I was born and raised in the good old US of A, because my father was born in Nuremberg, Germany (also spelled Nürnberg) in 1940. If any of you history buffs out there are paying attention, you already figured out that this was probably not the ideal child rearing environment what with all those Nazi’s moving in and lowering the property value.
My grandfather (may he rest in peace) was one of the chosen many that were forced to join the military and served his required time as a Wermacht soldier for the German Army. He was at Normandy. He did not want anything to do with any of it, despised the very air that Hitler was allowed to breathe and apparently was very good at keeping his mouth shut because he lived through all of it.
A Waechter has not been able to keep his mouth shut since.
As soon as he was able, he packed up the family after the war and hauled their asses to the US, where the fine people at Ellis Island welcomed them with open arms and immediately stole our umlaut. (If any of you have taken a peek at my brothers brief but powerful blog, you’ll understand where the tag line came from now.) In the amount of time it took the receiving person to say “I don’t have that thingy on my typewriter”, my family went from being the Wächter’s to the Waechter’s.
So my father has got the fact that there is way too much Kraut flowing through those veins. Let’s also add in that he is most likely undiagnosed OCD, an electrical engineer and Rush Limbaugh is his higher power. Oh yeah, and he is never wrong. Ever. So let’s go over what spending some time with my father is like.
Let’s not kid ourselves and assume that “spending time with my father” means he was all hey-lets-go-bowling-and-grab-a-few-beers-and-have-some-laughs kind of spend some time. It went more like “I’m moving your grandmother into the assisted living place tomorrow and you’re coming to help me carry furniture.” I know that it might be kind of subtle, but you’ll notice that it was not phrased in such a way as to be cleverly disguised as a request. Responding yes or no isn’t really an option. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an asshole and of course I’m going to go help move my grandmother into the assisted living place, but for crying out loud let’s work on some tact here, Pops.
We move on to this morning where I am awake and having my gigantic cup of coffee at around 9:15. If you paid any attention to my page banner or my now-world-famous post on Ambien, then you already know that I deal with insomnia and frequently require this sleeping gift from the Gods in order to fall asleep, which is usually somewhere between 2 and 3 in the morning. I wake up usually before 9. This is going to be significant in a minute. Around 11:30, my father sticks his head in the door with his cheerful morning greeting, “You ready to go or what?!” This actually doesn’t require an answer either, but ideally in his world, this means that everything in my world freezes in place and I shoot as though flames from my ass propel me, out the door. He stands in the doorway watching me tie my shoes, more than likely thinking that I don’t tie my shoes correctly or why I didn’t have them on already in preparation for his random and top secret arrival time. This would be right after he bitched about why anybody would wear shoes in the house. This is called the “you can’t win” game and my dad seems to have invented it.
At one of our family Christmas gatherings, my father was having a fantastic time berating my son for his long hair, which was well below his collar and in his face and well, it was long. For some reason, I was also a target because I have chosen to shave my head bald. A drastic change for me as my hair used to be so long that I kept it in a ponytail, which he also bitched about. My sister-in-law summed it up in a sweet little handmade Christmas card she made for me (that I am kicking myself because I can’t find the picture that I took of it) that simply said, “Either way, you’re fucked. Merry Christmas!”
I know, I’m wandering but when I think about this stuff I am bombarded by examples and I get distracted. Back to the moving furniture thing with dad . . .
So I climb in the passenger side of dad’s truck and at the first traffic light we come to (less than a mile from the house) he is screaming obscenities at someone in the oncoming lane. Other than this, we ride in silence. Further down the road, I get a text from my buddy, Tom. I grab my phone, tap a response back and put the phone back in the case that hangs from my pocket and continue to ride in silence.
Dad: “Would you mind not doing that. It’s annoying as hell.”
Me: “Doing what?”
Dad: “Texting. It’s annoying as shit. I wish they had never come up with that crap. It’s stupid and dangerous. There’s all these damn car accidents nowadays because of that damn texting.”
Me: “There wouldn’t be if whoever was driving wasn’t watching me text.”
Dad: (Sarcasm totally lost on him.) It’s just stupid. There is no point to it. I don’t know why in the hell people can’t just pick up the damn phone and talk to each other.”
Me: “Want me to call that lady you just called a ‘dumb bitch’ back at the traffic light for ya?”
Dad: *looks at me out of the corner of his eye and pretends he didn’t hear*
Moments after this conversation, we arrive at my grandmother’s house and I step out of the truck. My logical brain says we are no longer in the vehicle, so I am now free to text. I let this fly back to Tom:
Off to snatch furniture from grandma’s house we go. Our goal is to grab a recliner, a regular reading chair, a small end table and a picture off the wall. I follow dad through the house as he mutters to himself about how he hopes we can do it in one trip.
I know better. I should KNOW BETTER and keep my mouth shut. No, I can’t. I carry the same genetic code after all. Thankfully I also carry genetic code from my mother’s side of the family. The side that has all the laid back smartasses.
Me: “Are we cramming it all in the cab of the truck”?
Me: “It’s two chairs and an end table going into a vehicle designed to carry carrrrrgoooooo. Why should it take more than one trip”? *dramatic arm gestures to help emphasize “carrrrrgoooooo”*
Dad: “Just grab the damn chair”.
Me: “We should do this more often”.
Once our task is complete and we have what we came for loaded in the truck, I take a step back and look at the not-even- close to full truck.
Me: “You’re right. That’s pretty tight. I don’t think we could fit much more than a Volvo in there now”.
Dad: “Just get in the truck”.
No day with dad would be complete without at least one passive-aggressive moment, which is where we come to the part where the time I get out of bed is important. As we start to leave grandma’s house I recall that he had something about her needing her TV for the room and I ask quickly so as to avoid the whole “Oh shit! I KNEW it was going to take more than one trip!” tirade. Let’s see if you can find this moment:
Me: “Hey, don’t we need to grab her TV? I heard you say something about that yesterday.”
Dad: “No. She’s got her TV. I took that over there while you were sleeping.”
I didn’t italicize that for effect, the words were actually, visibly italicized as they exited his face. Most of the time I can let dad’s bullshit roll off my back, but the passive-aggressive stuff makes me want to hurl Molotov cocktails at a VFW meeting. Having inherited at least some of my grandfather’s ability to keep his mouth shut, this is what I thought:
“Wait What? Did you just fucking accuse me of sleeping all day? I was up at 9:00 this morning I also didn’t go to sleep, I might add, until 3:00 in the morning It is not my fault that you did not decide to make an appearance to pick me up to help you until 11:30 Had you picked me up when I got up this morning, we would have been done 2 hours ago and I’d be having lunch right now and thinking about how fucking funny this is going to be in my blog tonight I am sorry I could not be there to help you carry that 32″ flat screen TV that weighs slightly more than a box of tissues this morning Oh wait, I could have been, but you did not get me to help you do so because you assumed I was going to sleep all day because it is Saturday despite the fact that I haven’t slept past 9:30 in a couple of years Because 11:30 was the first time you saw me today and I was drinking coffee, you assumed I had just got up and because it is you and you could not possibly be wrong, that must be exactly what happened even though you know that I drink coffee for pretty much the first 4 hours of my day.”
Did I mention that when I am blinded by rage that my brain purges itself in one long run-on sentence? Thankfully, it stays in my brain. Most of the time.
What actually came out of my mouth was, “I’m sorry. Tonight I will go to bed at 7:30 pm like you and get up at 3 in the morning, then complain about being tired because I was ‘up all night’.”
Sadly, this is only the part of the trip where we picked up the furniture from my grandmother’s house and we have not even made it to the assisted living place to deliver it. Upon our arrival there he had to regale me with his extensive knowledge of the assisted living system.
Dad: “Those places over there are nice, but you have to buy those.” *points to little duplexes with garages* “They have kitchens and all that stuff. You can still eat in the cafeteria but it costs extra.” (We’ll be covering my dad’s views on spending money in an upcoming post. Let’s just say, he should have been a Jew but that wouldn’t have gone over well being the son of a Wermacht soldier and all.)
Me: “They still have nurses come check on them and stuff there, like bring them their meds and that kind of thing?’
Dad: “They have a call bell that is connected to the nurses station if they need anything. Those are the independent living houses.”
Me: “Grandma’s house is an ‘independent living house’. Those are ‘assisted living with less assistance than you get if you actually live in the main building in one of the rooms houses’, but that was way too long for the URL.”
Dad: *cocks his head like a confused dog that just heard himself fart for the first time*
Thankfully, the remainder of the task at hand went without much further incident and I was back home within the next 30 minutes. The pure absurdity that results from spending time with my dad inspires me to vent. This blog post is a perfect example. I’ve broke out over 2000 words already and it all spawned from a one hour experience.
My father lives in his own little world and everything that doesn’t conform to it is “stupid”. Fortunately for me, that means I can get some mileage out of this topic. Keep coming back over the next couple days to find the answers to these burning questions:
- Why funerals are “stupid”
- Why bagpipes are the most horrible sound on earth
- Why I am having an entire band of bagpipes play at his funeral
- How you can repair anything with 12 rolls of electrical tape and an old wood screw
- Why mentioning politics around him will cause me to stab you in the eye with a broken pencil
- How an engineer can turn a 5 minute repair into a 3 day project . . . that will still fail
and much more . . .
Most importantly, you’ll get to find out what in the fuck this is and what he is using it for:
Stay tuned. It only gets better.
My favorite Facebook post of the day, brought to you by Duh: